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Guardian’s misleading report defames bd apparel

A recent report by the Guardian said that Bangladesh garment factories sacked dozens of pregnant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to that, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) strongly disproved the report titled ‘We are on our own’: Bangladesh’s pregnant garment workers face the sack workers’ in the Guardian.

Guardian-misleading-report-Bangladesh-garment-pregnant-workers-termination
Figure: BGMEA said the report quotes misleading figures and provocative statements including other gross misinformation. (File Photo)

Dismissing pregnant workers and the involved parties in organizing labor is a crime, but it needs a thorough investigation to draw a conclusion like ‘handpick the workers they want to kick out of the industry – the ones with a voice’ and ‘termination of dozens of pregnant workers’, especially in a position where around 348 factories have shut down and more than 100,000 RMG workers lost their job.

BGMEA said the report is not procedurally correct since it was based only on the remarks from the labor activists, and there were no regards for the RMG industry to assess and appreciate the huge efforts the apparel industry has made to guard employments of millions by upholding all safety precautions and hygiene standards.

The report quotes misleading figures and provocative statements appealing that, RMG manufacturers are using COVID-19 as a justification to eliminate ‘undesirable’ workers, whereas the complete situation tells a different story.

The report quotes misleading figures and provocative statements appealing that, RMG manufacturers are using COVID-19 as a justification to eliminate ‘undesirable’ workers, whereas the complete situation tells a different story.

With COVID-19 impact gaining speed, 1150 of factories reported US$ 3.18 billion worth of order cancellations, and for four months of post-COVID-19, we have lost US$ 4.9 billion worth of apparel (March-June 2020 compared to the same in 2019). After a month-long shutdown in April, we started re-opening of our factories in late April / May with less capacity (30%-40%) following a safe and staggered approach.

To quote the Guardian ‘during lockdown hundreds of thousands of workers were not paid for work they had already done’. This allegation is untrue and misleading.

The wage payment for the month of April, May and June was centrally coordinated by the government of Bangladesh, as PM of Bangladesh kindly extended timely support to the garment industry to digitally pay wages of the workers on time to keep the industry afloat.

Also, the RMG sector remunerated $539 million to workers who did not work for 25 days in April and partially May.

There may be struggles and exceptions by a few factories, but the non-payment of wages to hundreds of thousands of workers is absolutely inexcusable. We demand a proper explanation of this statement from the Guardian.

However, while we condemn the generalized accusation against the industry, we would still like to investigate the allegations of pregnant workers being sacked with specific factory references.

And finally, we are facing dire consequences from the western buyers due to the cancellation of goods and unethical behavior of brands refusing to pay or asking for unrealistic discounts. We seek the help of the Guardian to track the buyers from the UK and reconsider their decisions so that we can keep providing for the millions that make their garments.

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